Remember when Shia LeBeouf was in Liverpool the other week? He wasn’t just here to go to garlands he was part of the fab “FOLLOW” exhibition at FACT – if you’ve not been yet you NEED to go. It’s dead interesting; all about social media and how it’s affecting our lives and our egos (like how we can’t cope of a selfie gets less than 11 likes). Best of all it’s totally free so get down there ASAP (open daily except Mondays).
In collaboration with the Follow exhibition, I agreed to be interviewed about ‘Scouse Bird’ and how I (the person who created her) feels about the whole thing. Special thanks to Kate who posed the questions 😘
Who is the eponymous Scouse Bird? Is she you? A caricature of you? A parody of somebody else? Or a collection of people…
If you ever met me you’d see I’m probably the opposite of ‘Scouse Bird’. I’m quite quiet – don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy, I just hate talking to people and being social (I make my husband do all my networking). There’s been a couple of times when I’ve been ‘recognised’ by a follower and while they might be all “OMG I love your account!” I don’t know what to say other than “Er thanks..” Mr SB goes mad at me and calls me rude, but I swear down I’m not, I”m just not fab at small talk (plus I find it weird when someone acts like a fan) and that coupled with bitchy resting face means I probably come across as a right snarler.
Looks-wise, most people imagine Scouse Bird to be short, blonde and with a full face of make up at all times; I’m tall, brunette, very rarely fake tan (because… lazy) and while I wouldn’t leave the house without make up I don’t exactly bother with a full smoky eye or anything. I’m also really shit at doing my hair – I’ve sat and watched my hairdresser backcomb my hair hundreds of times but when I do it I look like Russell Brand’s had a fight with a toffee apple and it still goes flat within 10 minutes. In the past I’ve been really self-conscious about living up to the image of Scouse Bird so that I didn’t disappoint anyone who met me; this included personal training sessions, twice weekly curly blows, weekly spray tans and high heels at all times – it was way too much hard work. How the fuck do people do it? Honestly!
So, me she definitely isn’t, but who is she? She’s a bit of everyone. I pay attention to trends and popular culture (mainly Liverpool in the beginning but now the world to be honest) and try and draw from that for funny posts and memes. Most of it comes from the weird way my head works but she might say something a friend has said once or that I’ve overheard someone say in the hairdressers – that sort of thing.
You remain anonymous. Do you think this anonymity gives you more room to speak freely on social media without fear of being judged?
In the beginning I would say yes, I definitely used to cut more to the bone. I don’t really feel the need to do that as much anymore – the crude and vulgar thing’s been done to death and besides, you get the followers who feel that their full time job is to be offended by everything… and be arsed with them. If you leave a comment bitching about a post I’ve done you just get blocked, ain’t no one got time for your unwanted opinions twatface. If I see something I don’t like on the internet I just scroll past it, I proper don’t get the people who feel they’ve got to have their two pence worth – #spoiler NO ONE’S ARSED PAL. I’ve worked with some really big companies too and I have to be mindful of them and stay professional (to a degree at least).
Does Sassy Bird get trolled? If so, do you (personally) feel hurt?
Yeh she does. I’m quite lucky as it doesn’t happen too often, it seems to go in waves, it’ll happen loads all of a sudden and then nothing for months. I would say the majority comes from lads with the old “ZZZZ You’re not funny, turn it in now” shouts, but I’ve been getting them from day one and ZZZZ they bore the shit out of me right back. Not every follower is going to find everything you say funny and I’m fine with that. With girls it’ll usually be something to do with bitching about my looks (I am mainly anonymous but if people want to find out who I am, it’s really not that hard) – it can be hurtful but I’m over it very quickly. The way I look really shouldn’t have any bearing on whether you find the account entertaining or not like – it’s very strange.
Either way, I’ve managed to make a career out of something that previously didn’t exist and if you asked me to describe my dream job I’d describe this exact one and that is just amazing and I’m so grateful for it. If I have to put up with the odd arsehole (and who doesn’t in their job) then that’s fine, bring it on.
Sometimes on social media it’s tempting to say things we later regret. Is this ever a problem for Scouse Bird?
I used to be a lot more vocal but now I just tend to bite my lip – it’s the old saying “If you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all”. I would say that some of my opinions on things, some people would find really controversial but they’re my opinions and, what some people don’t seem to realise is that it’s not the law to share your thoughts on absolutely everything.
As your online traffic has grown more and more, do you feel that you have some kind of ethical responsibility to younger readers, for instance regarding body image, lifestyle etc.?
Not really, although some people think I should! I suppose because I’ve never really been led by celebrities and magazines etc. I don’t see why anyone would be led by me and if they are, that’s on them. I’m just a person and Scouse Bird is just a bit of fun character. I’ve never heralded myself as a role model or a bible to follow and I think that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. Personally I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, I don’t actually drink that much, I believe in being positive and moral but would I suggest other people do that? If they want like, I’m not really arsed either way, your life is your life and you can live it judgement free from me. If you’re a vegan, sound. If you like wearing fur, sound. If you’re into casual sex, sound. If you like to eat clean & train dirty, sound. If you like to eat dirty and take diet pills to counteract that, then guess what? Sound. Up to you.
As a creative outlet, is Scouse Bird enough for you? Do you ever wish to articulate views that would not be in keeping with hers?
Oh I don’t agree with half the stuff she says! I have a personal life with personal views that are totally nothing to do with Scouse Bird and I find it really easy to compartmentalise it.
Our online accounts can be edited to present our best possible selves. However, Scouse Bird is flawed, just like all good heroines should be. She can be sharp tongued, a little too obsessed with her looks, and she likes her junk food A LOT. She balances this with honesty and her self- deprecating humour. Does this make you worry that people who know you will confuse you with her?
In the past I’ve definitely had people (strangers) confuse me with her. I’ve gone to great pains to highlight the fact that I am ‘the editor’ of Sassy Bird; she’s a magazine, a social media presence, a company and I just run it. I think people get that more now so I feel confident sharing the odd personal life event now (such as finding out I was pregnant or getting married) without people confusing me and her. Saying that, people still call me Scouse Bird all the time in real life!
FOLLOW runs at FACT from 11 December 2015 until 21 February 2016.